tv Democracy Now LINKTV December 19, 2012 8:00am-9:00am PST
12/19/12 12/19/12 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is "democracy now!" >> darrius, -- i am sure there will be a day for discussion of the usual washington politick debates, but i don't think today is that day. >> let the president know there is support from the other side, us, us that have been trying to fight to reduce gun violence in this country. are we going to wait for another massacre? are we going to have this discussion six months, another
year, 12, at 13, 20, 100 people die? we cannot wait any more. >> do your congress member carolyn mccarthy lost her husband 19 years ago and the long island rail road massacre. her son was gravely wounded. she's become a leading advocate for gun control as pro-gun politicians and lobbyists fall silent. there is a seismic shift that could lead to gun control legislation. we will ask her. then we look at the fight to save social security as negotiations of the so-called fiscal cliff intensified. >> i do believe the opportunity is there, the parameters of the deal are clear, the path to a compromise is clear. and he hopes the republicans will meet him on that path and do something that would be very good for the american people, for the middle class, and our economy. >> we will speak with arizona congressmember are raul
grijalva on his opposition to president obama's plan to cut more from social security than the military. in an exclusive interview with native american activist leonard peltier from prison. >> there would not allow me to put up a defense -- they would not allow me to put up a defense. they manufactured evidence, witnesses, tortured witnesses. the list goes on. i think i made very good candidate after 37 years for clemency or house arrest. >> all of that and more coming up. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president obama is expected to announce today vice-president joe biden will head an interagency task force on confronting gun violence in the aftermath of last week's newtown
massacre. the news comes one day after white house spokesperson jay carney said obama would support senator dianne feinstein's bid to reinstate the ban on assault weapons. >> he is actively supportive, for example, senator feinstein's stated intent to revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban. he supports and would support legislation that addresses the problem of the so-called gun show loophole. and there are other elements of a gun legislation that he could support. >> the original assault weapons ban expired in 2004 in the national rifle association has succeeded to date in blocking the renewal. on tuesday, two more students killed in the newtown attack were laid to rest. jessica rekos and james mehdi ali, 06 years old. another six funerals are being
held today. classes have resumed at most schools in the town, while sandy hook elementary school is still considered a crime scene. the newtown massacre continues to prompt action at the state level. michigan republican governor rick snyder veto the measure allowing firearms into schools and other gun-free zones. yet another new multiple shooting in the united states, for people are dead in colorado's weld county after murder-suicide. the shooter killed three adult victims before turning the gun on themselves. colorado governor has called for strengthening our arms checks in his day to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. we will have more on that control of the newtown massacre with a democratic congressmember carolyn mccarthy after the headlines. capitol hill, lawmakers have dropped a provision that a ban the indefinite to detention of u.s. citizens from the national defense authorization act, or ndaa. the senate approved an amendment that would prevent the military
from imprisoning any u.s. citizen or permanent residents deemed a terrorism suspect without charge or trial. but according to the new york times, congressional negotiators have dropped the provision in the effort to merge the bill's house and senate versions. the swiss banking giant ubs has been ordered to pay a $1.5 billion fine for its role in the manipulation of the london interbank offered rate, or libor, which provides the basis for rates on trillions of dollars in transactions across the globe. the rigging of libor meant millions of borrowers paid the wrong amount on their loans. the bulk of the fines, $1.2 billion, will be paid in the u.s., with the rest going to britain and switzerland. ubs has also admitted to committing wire fraud through its tokyo branch on libor rates in japanese currency. at least nine medical workers have been killed in a series of attacks on a polio vaccination effort in pakistan. three people were killed today near the city of peshawar, one day after six workers, all female, were killed in peshawar
and karachi. the shootings are believed to be part of a militant campaign against polio eradication in response to the c.i.a.-backed fake vaccination program in pakistan that helped locate osama bin laden. taliban warlords announced a ban on immunization efforts earlier this year, calling them a cover for espionage. pakistan is one of three countries in the world where polio remains a large-scale risk. the israeli government has announced another new round of settlement expansion in the occupied west bank, 1500 new settler homes in east jerusalem's ramat shlomo. the obama administration has issued some of its most forceful public criticism of israeli settlement expansion to date, yet has acknowledged it will not take practical steps to respond the ground. after weeks of international calls for u.s. response to israeli settlement growth, state
department spokesman victoria nuland criticized israel on tuesday. >> we are deeply disappointed that israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action. these repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace. israel's leaders continually say they support a path toward a two-day solution, yet these actions only put that all further at risk. >> despite the criticism, she wanted knowledge the obama administration will leverage none of its political and diplomatic clout with israel, including billions in u.s. aid and veto power the u.n. security council, to stop the settlements. >> you can be deeply disappointed, but the israelis will continue. what leverage -- >> with the administration be willing to put this strong mind
the to the mystery council resolution, even though it would not change the situation on the ground? >> i don't think we think that is a helpful step on the ground. >> and his group from nbc have escaped captivity in syria after five days. nbc news chief foreign correspond richard engel and his production team were seized by kidnappers last week, subjected to mark executions before ultimately being freed after their kidnappers lost a firefight at a rebel-controlled checkpoint. he described the ordeal. >> we were with some rebels who were escorting us. they executed one of them on the spot. they took us to a series of safe houses and interrogation places and kept us blindfolded, abound. we were not physically beaten or tortured. a lot of psychological torture. threats of being killed. they made us choose which one of
us would be shot first. when we refused, there were mock shootings. >> there are least seven other journalists missing in syria. those are some of the headlines. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. five days after the shooting in newtown, connecticut, that took the lives of 20 children and six staff members, funerals for the victims continue. on tuesday, two more students killed in the attack were laid to rest -- jessica rekos and james mattioli. both were just six years old. president obama is expected to announce today that vice president joe biden will head a new interagency task force to come up with the policies to address gun violence. but the white house says obama will not announce any major policy decisions on guns today. the debate launched by the massacre over gun control legislation continues to unfold.
in its first official statement since friday's attack, the national rifle association said tuesday that it would "shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the murders" and that it is "prepared offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again." the group reactivated its facebook account, which it had shut down after the shooting, and announced a press conference for friday. >> for more we're form a democratic congress member carol mccarthy of new york. her husband was killed and her son severely injured 19 years ago in the 1993 mass shooting on a long island railroad train that killed six. she has long fought to pass gun- control legislation. congressmember mccarthy joins us from capitol hill. welcome back to "democracy now!" it seems like we just had you other -- on regarding the massacre. i want ask if you feel at this point there is a seismic shift,
something we did not see after your husband was killed or even after or again a few days ago or after aurora, and the possibility of meaningful gun- control legislation and what would you like to see that look like? >> i do see a shift. the american people are questioning now a lot of the things that have not been done, so i think we have a good chance. obviously we're waiting to see what the nra is going to be offering on friday. i am hoping and i have always reached out to them to say that we need to work together. the interest of what we have is a gun safety and trying to make sure that people are not killed. so we will wait until friday to see what they have to say, but i have to say here in congress, trying to reach out and talk to a number of republican friends, they're not committing on anything yet. so i ask if anybody is talking about it on their side of the aisle.
apparently, one or two members are, but they have not come board yet. i hope in the coming days and weeks we will start to see more republicans join us. >> you had quite a reaction after white house spokesperson jay carney, right after the massacre, said this. >> there is, i am sure, will be rather a day for discussion of the usual washington policy debates, but i don't think today is that day. >> your response, congressmember mccarthy? >> i was furious. as soon as that press conference was over, i called the white house. listen, we have gone through too many shootings. everybody says, you cannot say anything, you cannot say anything. we should have been saying about this going all the way back from columbine. we should have been talking about this in the last few years going with gabby giffords.
i thought for sure that our colleagues would see this as what it is, that there are too many guns out on the street. and the ones we're after, if you look at all of the shootings lately, or the assault weapons -- are the assault weapons and certainly the large magazine clips. this time i would not hold my voice. i said, no, i will start speaking. i am glad to see the white house, and i am proud the president is coming out and saying that we're going to do meaningfully -- do something meaningfully. there are other things we can do. down here for the last couple of years, we have cut the budget, especially for those programs that are in our districts that have to do with mental health. the after-school programs that help some of our troubled children. there are things we can do on the education committee. by the way, i want to say that
the school in connecticut did everything right. everything was right. they followed the security plan to the t. the only thing that we saw that possibly could have been improved was the shattered glass on the door where unfortunately the killer got in. i am sure that will be out there to be fixed soon. but i sit on the education committee. over the years, especially after columbine, we put these recommendations out to our schools. i will say the majority of schools are following them. >> on sunday on "meet the press" the author of the assault weapons ban, dianne feinstein, announced shall introduce a bill to reform gun standards in the next congress. >> i'm going to introduce in the senate and the same bill will be introduced in the house, a bill to ban assault weapons. it will ban the sale, transfer
and importation and possession, not retroactively, but prospectively. it will ban the same for big clips, drums, or strips of more than 10 bullets. so there will be a bill. we have been working on it now for a year. we tried to take my bill from 1994 to 2004 and perfect it. we believe we have. we exempt over 900 specific weapons that will not be or fall under the bill. >> that was senator dianne feinstein. i am just wondering, congressman mccarthy, if this is old thinking in a new time? she has been pushing for an assault weapons ban and in an nra-dominated congress has not been able to get it passed, but now the country seems to be experiencing a seismic shift, people speaking out perhaps in the silence of the nra and pro- and politicians, 900 exceptions?
>> if you really look at some of the guns, and i know for a fact her staff in working with judiciary, they have been looking at all of these guns. you have to understand some of these guns, especially some that are semi-automatic, cannot be fitted to the attack these large capacity clips. this bill is quite different from the one passed in 1994. it is going to be more of modernized. i do not even like the idea of saying it is a renewal. this is an introduction of a bill that has caught up to the times. you have to remember something, amy. when we pass that bill, and i was not in congress at that time, i was an activist down here basically lobbing the members of congress and the senators, what we need to do is to make sure that's we are accommodating the hunters, the
target shooters to make sure that they can continue with their sport. some may not approve of that, but that is the way we are as a country. we also have to protect the constitution. we don't want to have a constitutional -- excuse me. challenge. so with that being said, i think when the members actually start to see what the bill is, i think they will be agreeable that the time has come. i have always believed there is no reason in the world that someone should be able to have the large capacity clips. that is what was used on the long island rail road back in 1993. we have seen those, unfortunately, now calling them or i call them assault clips. that is what they are. they are made for military, our men and women fighting over and afghanistan. they have been used in wars. one of the problems we will
probably see in the future and are tried to stop that in this bill is even when we pass the assault weapons bill back in 1994, the manufacturers found ways around it by just adding certain pieces to the gun so they could make it an automatic and semiautomatic with a large capacity clip. that is our goal. i do believe we have a much better chance this time to get it passed. let's not fool anybody. it is going to be extremely difficult. it will be extremely difficult, but i think this time, this shooting, these children, we have to do something. >> congressmember mccarthy, this is nermeen shaikh. i want to ask you a comment made. this is bob mcdonnell of virginia. he proposed having school
officials carry guns. he was asked about this proposal on wtop radio. >> another knee-jerk reaction, against that, i think there should at least be a discussion of that. if people are armed, not just a police officer but other officials, school officials, that were trained and chose that a weapon, certainly, there would have been an opportunity to stop aggressors from coming in the school. i think that is a reasonable discussion. your comments on what the virginia governor said? >> let's take this into context. we have passed legislation to help our schools to be the sickest they can be. they followed the lockdown procedure. who are you going to assign to be able to have a gun? they're supposed to be behind locked doors and not allow anyone in. if the principal had had a gun
and was charging the shooter and he has an automatic of large capacity clips, the outcome would not have been the same. i know they're talking about having armed guards. some of our schools actually do have armed guards. but with that being said, any more guns -- adding more events to the chaos is not going to help. i have spoken in many police officers around the country, mainly because that is what was said to me by the nra after the shooting on the long island railroad. if someone on that train would have had a gun, colin ferguson would not have been able to kill as many and wound as many people as he did. the fact is, colin ferguson only had magazines that had 15 bullets in it, and it was when he was on his second and third clip that several people tackled him. by the way, that is also what happened at the shooting with gabby giffords in arizona.
obviously, the size of how many bullets are in a gun does make a difference. by the way, for those that are hunters and those that are sportsmen, they know darn well each of their states already have regulations. in other words, when they go duck hunting for deer hunting, there are only so many bullets they are allowed to have. are we going to give animals a better chance of surviving than we as human beings? >> congressmember mccarthy, a want to play a comment from west virginia senator joe manchin, who is a lifetime member of the nra. after the newtown shooting, he said monday on msnbc's "morning joe," that it is "time to move beyond rhetoric" on gun-control. president obama called senator manchin on tuesday to talk about this issue of gun control. >> i can honestly say i have gone deer hunting. i just came with my family from
deer hunting. i never had more than three shells in a clip. sometimes you don't get more than one shot anyway. it is common sense. it is time to move beyond rhetoric. we need have a common-sense discussion and move in a reasonable way. anyones and they don't want to talk and sit down and have that type of dialogue is wrong. anyone that says when chuck schumer says we should not have more than 10 rounds in a clip, you know, they would be wrong to say it should not be on the table. everything should be on the table. >> that was conservative democratic senator joe manchin of west virginia. in a 2010 campaign ad, manchin famously used a rifle to shoot a piece of cap and trade climate control legislation. this is a clip. >> i will always defend west virginia. i will protect our second amendment rights. that is for the nra endorsed me. i will take on washington and his administration to cut the federal government off our backs
and out of our pockets. i will cut federal spending and repeal the bad parts of obamacare. i sued the epa and will take dead aim at the cap and trade bill. cause it is bad for was virginia. >> that was joe manchin representative mccarthy, can you comment on his change in position after this mass shooting? >> certainly, he is someone that is a very deep thinker. i also know there are an awful lot nra members that are thinking along those lines. we have always offered the nra to come sit down with us. i have worked with a bill on them going back after the virginia tech shooting, and we got a bill passed, and that was the innocent background check system to improve it. there were a lot of things we found out after virginia tech.
the shooter had been mentally adjudicated. that already disqualified him from being able to buy a gun. unfortunately, his name was not in the file. we found out the majority of states do not keep those files and do not put them into the computer system. there is a bill in the house that we got through on the senate, and signed by president bush during that time. i do believe the president when he put out what he is going to be looking at, that is going to be part of it. it is a good program. the only thing is, there is bad enough money to do what needs to be done. just because a bill gets passed does not mean it is going to be enacted in away myself and many others intended it to be. there are a lot of things we can do. i believe the nra should sit down and talk to us. when something like this happens, there are many, many good people in this country,
millions of good people in this country that own guns. because they love the sport of hunting. they loved skeet shooting. these are things that we need to take into mind. i am from the new york area. i had to look into this fascination with guns. i am not worried about them. i am worried about those that fall into the cracks. one of the biggest problems we have is closing the gun show loophole. it is not even a loophole, it is a wide open area where someone can go in. you have plenty of federal licensed dealers there. but those that have a criminal intent, they will go to the tables where there will say, because there has been a lot of undercover drug the country i'm trying to find out the solutions to these problems, and what we found is you can go out to a table, a private buyer, and you
can buy any kind of gun you want and not go through background check. number one, it is not fair to the legitimate business owners that are following the law. but you have these people and many may just want to sell some of the guns they have too many of to make a little money, but you know what? everybody should be going for a background check. everybody. no one should be exempted from it. >> how is it there -- until this point, you have not succeeded in getting them to even look at the terrorist watch list and selling guns? >> that one lacks common sense whatsoever. here we have people on the terrorist watch list. they cannot get onto our airplanes, but yet they are allowed to go out and buy a gun. i cannot even explain to you where the common-sense on that is. the problem here, especially on
the house side, basically, i can introduce the bills, but if they do not get the permission of the speaker of the house, they cannot even go forward for it i cannot get a committee hearing. i cannot even have a discussion about it. >> have you spoken the house speaker boehner? >> rightness' speaker boehner and the president are trying to deal out with the fiscal cliff, and i'm hoping -- we all hope we can work an agreement because i don't want to see certainly my constituency pay more taxes, january 1. so i understand that is where his priorities are right now. but i have had discussions with him in the past, and i will be talking to him soon. >> i saw you saturday, a day after the shooting. we were at msnbc. you were talking about your concern around the negotiations, around the fiscal cliff on
another issue, the issue of mental illness. in the last 24 hours, for example, colorado governor hickenlooper just announced an $18.5 million plan to expand the state's mental health services. riderless same time, there was another mass shooting in colorado yesterday -- right around the same time, there's another mass shooting in coloradoan yesterday. a man killed three people. talk about the concern of mental illness. >> anjali with the fiscal cliff, number one, we had very large cuts last year and the before. we been doing what we need to do to bring down the fiscal cliff. when it comes to mental health, i spent my life as a nurse before i came here. there are choices we have to make. when you are making those choices, you have to look at what are the consequences going to be down the road? yes, i happen to agree there is
a lot of waste in this system. i believe we need to cut back the out. when secretary gates was here on the defense side in the pentagon, they found a lot of money they can certainly cut out. to be very honest with you, you have to be careful we want to make sure that we do not hurt our national defense. it is the same thing with mental health and certainly even medical research. we should not be put behind when we're on the cusp, in my opinion, of coming up with some any cures or at least treating chronic diseases. mental health is the same thing. we can find the waste and we can find ways, but you don't take money out of things on what we're trying to do to make us all a better society. and that includes mental health. >> finally, the ideal bill you want to see passed. you said, congressmember
mccarthy, you're waiting to see what the nra will say. it seems amazing that in their silence for the first time in so long, in the wake of their silence that this is backing has been filled by massive number of voices for gun-control -- this vaccuum has been filled by massive number of voices for gun-control. it has been filled in by what might be called the silenced majority, as opposed to could say, but all the people who have not been heard before. why wait to hear what the nra has to say? they are a powerful lobby. what do you think they're going to say? second, what bill do you want to see question lists the criterion of a successful build for you. >> yes, i am waiting to hear what they have to say, that is
not stopped me from introducing the bills i would like to see go for. closing the gun show loophole for one. making sure everyone goes to background checks. obviously i have offered getting rid of the large magazines, assault magazines that we have out there. yes, getting rid of some of these assault weapons and some assault weapons so we cannot have the rapid fire that is out there. we are not waiting for the nra. i would just open the nra comes out and says something, that they're going to be willing to work with all of us to come to a solution. we have to make sure that our young people are getting the education that they need. so there are a lot of bills. believe me, and the last several days, many members have introduced legislation. we have been working with mayor bloomberg the past several
years, and certainly working with the mayors across this country. even with that, i have to say, several mayors jumped on to the with mayor bloomberg and they were republicans. we are seeing this grow. it is a dialogue we need to have. the biggest problem i see down the road, and i speak to my republican colleagues on the other side of the aisle, silence is something that is always played well here in the house. they will stay silent. they will try to delay, delay, delay. hopefully, the american people will forget what happened last friday. that has always been their technique. to be honest with you, the nra has always gone silent after one of these mass shootings. they stay silent and then come out and start meeting with all their members to say, stay strong. i still believe this time is different. you are already seen some pretty
high level republicans, conservative republicans, coming out and saying, "it's time to do something about this. we can no longer tolerate what we saw last week." and certainly, these funerals of our young children. i mean, is that who we are as americans? i would say to those that feel we're just after their guns, let me say to you, the gun man is not one to come knocking down your door to take your gun. they're not. that is a lie that has been put out there for too many years. the supreme court has already come down with a decision that a person has our right to own a gun. they also said that the government had the right to protect their citizens and to be able to pass legislation that is for the safety of all. >> congressmember carolyn mccarthy, thank you very much for being with you, for joining
us, and also my condolences again on the death of your husband and the maiming of your son in the 1993 mass shooting on the long island railroad train that killed six and wounded so many others. because i am sure that every time another massacre takes place, you relive that as well as take in the pain of the latest massacre, which occurred last week. let's go out of this segment with the voices of new town. >> on tuesday, andrei nikitchyuk of newtown, connecticut, spoke at an event organized by the british campaign to prevent gun violence. his 8-year-old son was pulled into a classroom by a teacher and escaped harm at the sandy hook elementary school shooting last week. >> i am an immigrant. i have been here for 22 years. and i held these believes america has -- with guns.
it is part of american history. gun owners and people who handle guns, they know how to keep them safe and be responsible. our politicians will do whatever they can to make sure our kids are safe. and to know every time something like columbine, at virginia tech, or aurora were happening, i would avert my eyes and i will still think that something will be done. but all of those police were shattered on friday -- the leafs were shattered on friday. i think we all need to speak up. >> andrei nikitchyuk of newtown, connecticut, in washington to speak out for gun control. we will be back in a moment.
>> this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. >> we stand the nation's capital as we turn of the so-called fiscal cliff till that could come to a vote as early as thursday. on monday, the white house issued a new offer to house republicans. the proposed leaving lower tax rates in place for everyone except those earning $400,000 and above, up from the $250,000 threshold a president has been demanding for months. the offer also floats a lower revenue target of $1.2 trillion, down from $1.6 trillion. while obama has offered to cut some $100 billion for military spending, he's proposing to cut even more from social security -- $130 billion by adjusting the inflation index for social secure the benefits. the white house says the cuts would come with safeguards to protect the most low-income recipients. >> democratic congress member raul grijalva of arizona has rejected the cuts outlined in
the plan. joining us now from the cannon rotunda on capital hilll welcome to "democracy now!" why have you rejected president obama's compromise with john boehner, the house speaker? >> it is a compromise built on very, very -- on a very weak platform, particularly for social security. as we go down the road, medicare and medicaid. i worry, in many of the progressives worried, that we have opened up a door by talking about [indiscernible] with social security, wants to open the door -- >> can you explain what cpi is? >> it is relevant because that is the basis by which potential increases to recipients. in my district, those who receive social security,
whether they are retired or a disability or dependent children, they depend on that for the inflationary rate and for them to be able to adjust what they receive with regards to what is going on in the economy. we know what is going on in this economy. it is harder and costlier. for us to open that door now and allow the bridge to be connected, you might want to say we're just only going to deal with one portion of the strata. i don't believe that. i believe in the long run, we of taken a program that has been a bedrock program for the american people and open the door for some long-term damage down the road. there are so many things that can be done to generate revenue that we're not looking at, that is not on the table. social security does not create the deficit. it is a source of revenue. that is how it is being looked at in terms of these cuts. >> can you talk about some of
the key constituents would be most affected if this proposal goes through? >> in my district, a large percentage, i would say over half, and many in the country. so security is their only source of income, their sole source of income. we're talking about people with disabilities that social security assists. we're looking at dependents of survivors. this is not a group that is readily going to go out and make up the difference in any potential cut. by opening the store, you're talking about benefit cuts. you can put whatever kind of ornaments you want, but it is a benefit cut. many of us see that and we see this link in the long term to be something the republicans have been wanting as a means to begin to deal with social security and deal with the trust fund and deal with the fact that it is the rate of inflation as dictator with the increases have been four recipients.
>> have spoken with president obama? and how much consensus do you feel you have in the house right now to oppose cuts to social security? compare it to military spending. >> military spending, saying the proposal, as i understand is $100 billion, even gates proposed more than that on antiquated weapons and making sure took care of our troops, but let's look at the fact. we continue to build weaponry that is of no utility in this age. more importantly, of the utility in the whole issue of disarmament and the utility in the issue of maybe restoring some sense of balance of peace in this world. having said that, it should be an area that is not sacrosanct. but the same time, with the progressive caucus has said over and over again, social security, medicare and medicaid,
those programs deserve to be strengthened and improved. it should be a discreet discussion about improvement and strengthening, and there should be other things on the table like the transition tax for corporations and wall street's transfers of $1 million in the stock market. there should be some cuts in the subsidies for corporations. there should be some regulations and oversight to make sure we don't get in the catastrophe we got into. this amnesia that we don't know how we got here is possibly the most bothersome to me that we will repeat. and use this opportunity of the deficit to further push the agenda, which has been the hard right agenda, which is to begin to dismantle systematically the support system out there for the american people, and a support system is what the federal government does with programs like social security and education. >> raul grijalva, thank you very much for being with us, democrat of arizona, co-chair of the
turn, turn" last friday night at the beacon theater at a "bring leonard peltier," concert and rally. last >> to agree reported on presidents typically pardon more presidents during the holiday season that it any other time during the year. we looked at the renewed calls for clemency for one of america's most well-known and longest incarcerated prisoners, leonard peltier. we revisit the case today with him. he spoke to saturday from prison. leonard peltier is a native american activist and former member of the american indian movement was convicted of aiding in the killing of two fbi agents during a shootout on south dakota's pine ridge indian reservation in 1975. the incident occurred two years after the american indian movement occupied the village of wounded knee for 71 days. during that time, some 64 local native americans were murdered, most of them had ties to aim.
their deaths went un investigated by the fbi. leonard peltier has long maintained his innocence. amnesty international considers him a political prisoner was not granted a fair trial. on friday, singers harry belafonte and pete seeger hosted the "ring leonard peltier home in 2012 concert" at the beacon theater in new york city to raise awareness of his 37-year- old ordeal and plea for executive clemency from president obama. among those who spoke with academy award winning filmmaker, michael moore. >> [inaudible] the idea of how we incarcerate people in this country -- leonard is there for a crime he did not commit. he has served 37 years enslaved
in a pen. what will history write about us and how to lock up some of our best people? there for the grace of god go you or i. i woke up today and i was inspired by his poetry, so i decided to write a poem for him. i will read it to you first and somehow i will get him on the phone and read it to him read. here goes. dear mr. president, please let leonard come home let him be home for christmas that would make my yuletide gay but his troubles be far, far away he has been gone some 37 years just think of what he has missed i want to take into ikea and see if he can figure out how to put together a coffee table imagine
to gather i want to take them to starbucks and show him the difference between a grande and vinte. i want to bring into my home and let him watch the bachelorette and see if you can guess who gets the single red rose i want to go to city field named after a bank that fleas millions of people and show him the mets still suck although, 10 years into his prison term, they did not. i want to show him all of this 20 women in the u.s. and that an african-american in the white house and no soda over 12 ounces in new york city and maybe, just maybe, he can help us with the next occupy the next battle to stand with the millions who are in need of a
courageous leader now more than ever please, mr. president, let's leonard peltier come home, for we shall all very our hearts at wounded knee. >> michael moore speaking on friday night. special thank you for that footage to filmmaker lorna tucker. >> on saturday after the leonard peltier concert at the beacon theater, at a chance to speak directly with leonard when he called in to a news conference that was organized by native elders, his lawyers, and pete seeger. i conducted the interview on the front row of the press conference by telephone as he spoke to me from the u.s. penitentiary at:, florida. he was sentenced to prison in 1977. he is now 68 years old. >> this is amy goodman from "democracy now!" >> how are you a question are >> i am good. i wondered if you have a
message for president obama? >> concerning what? [laughter] >> your situation, the situation in the world. if the worst? what message? >> you can share several. >> i just hope he can stop the wars going on in this world and all of this people getting killed, and give the hills back to my people and turn me loose. >> can you share with people at the news conference and with president obama your case for why you should be, why your sentence should be commuted, why you want clemency? >> well, i never got a fair trial, for one. my case has been a problem from the moment they had a grand jury
hearing. then someone on the grand jury hearing that testified against me that i had never met in my life he was brought in from canada. they violated international laws. trial they had admitted racists on the jury, would not allow me to put up a defense, and manufactured evidence, manufactured witnesses, tortured witnesses. the list goes on. i think i am a good candidate after 37 years for clemency or house arrest, at least. >> what would house arrest mean? can you describe your prison conditions in florida right now? >> i am in the united states supermax penitentiary.
like all of the other penitentiary's. house arrest would mean i would be home on house arrest. i would probably have to wear a bracelet on my ankle, but that would be a lot better than this. at least i could get some medical treatment. i got real bad prostrate right now. it is just getting worse and worse. it ain't getting any better. it is not healing itself. it just continues to grow worse. >> your convicted of aiding and abetting the killing of these two fbi agents. what is your response? >> or rich shalit, i was convicted of first-degree murder. after their case fell apart, the most critical evidence against me, the mad -- weapon, then we filed a freedom of information act and found two documents where they had done scientific tests from their farms laboratory that can not negative. so this was another piece of manufactured evidence besides
the manufactured witnesses and things like that. then there case fell apart. and 19 -- in 1985, the eighth circuit court of appeals judge asked the prosecutors just what was mr. peltier convicted up because we cannot find no evidence of first-degree murder in the record? the prosecutor stated the government does not know who killed the agents, nor does he know what for dissipation leonard peltier may have had. so in 1992, i filed an appeal again asking what i was in prison for the government does not know what i am here for. so they changed it to aiding and abetting, which is illegal because i was never indicted for it or prosecuted for it and it takes a whole different defense in the trial.
ami don't know what the hell here for. >> how is your health? can you describe the conditions at komen? >> it is a united states penitentiary. they're getting worse and worse. were 20 or like they 30 years ago. i have a bad prostrate. a doctor said one side looks healthy and the other side is not healthy. a prostrate. i will get a scope test but it was over a year ago. so far it has not shown any cancer. this is one of the biggest killers of men. all they give me is a pill for it. >> and diabetes? >> well, yes, i got all the other stuff, too. diabetes, high blood pressure, a mild heart attack and mild stroke at one time.
i am falling apart. [laughter] >> do you have any hope you will be freed? >> well, according to the laws, the 30-year mandatory release, after 30 years i was supposed to be released. that went by. i've been here for 37. when i was sentenced to prison, a life sentence was seven years. i did not get life without parole. i've done about five, six life sentences now. they are in violation of their own laws just on that. i don't know. i am fighting for it. i'm going to try to get out. so far, it and looking very good, i will tell you that much. >> what is your response to the fbi that campaigns against your
release? >> they are full of crap. they're the ones who should be investigated for all of the murders they committed on pine ridge. they support of those killings. they financed it. they gave intelligence. they armed with ammunition -- arms and ammunition and sophisticated weaponry. this was all stated by dwayne brewer, one of the leaders of the goon squads on the reservations. they're the ones who should be investigated. which, i might add, some of the indians [indiscernible] state senators and south dakota are calling for an investigation on that. they're going to put it together. the son of one of the attorney general's office in south dakota, tim johnson's a congressman over there, his son is going to leave that investigation.
>> what is the significance of that? >> but those murders in jail. i mean, that is the way i look at it. >> for people who don't know about your case, especially young people, how is it you like to be described? how would you, leonard peltier, like to be known to them? >> to somebody who stood up for his people's rights and tried to stop the termination at and all the other crimes committed against my people. that is the only reason i am here. they proved nothing about me. they ain't proved i did anything, let alone i killed somebody. >> what would you do if you were free? >> well, i would probably go home on house arrest. [laughter] i mean, that is still a thing i
can expect. noma, he ain't going to give clemencies until his last year. he's just not -- it's not going to happen. i don't believe it. george bush signed the second chance act, which is house arrest. we're trying to push that so i can get at least -- if i did it house arrest, i cannot least get medical treatment they're not giving it to me. that is all there is to it. well, if i did, i would go home to north dakota. i got about 10 seconds left. the buzzer just give me -- i think i got a minute. >> what gives you hope, leonard? >> what? >> what gives you hope? >> people like you and the other supporters out there and people
behind me, my people. that is the only hope i got. >> and the meaning of harry belafonte and pete seeger and about 1000 other people who came out last night to this event and your honor questor >> i got to say this quickly. 10 seconds. thank you all very, very much. my time is of. i got to get off this phone. >> we love you, leonard. >> love you, letter. >> stay strong. >> that was leonard peltier. i was speaking to him at a news conference on saturday on the telephone. he is in prison at the has been to treat and coleman, florida. he has been imprisoned for 37 years from now asking president obama for clemency. on saturday, there was a concert here in his honor. go to democracynow.org to see him reading his own poetry.